Church of Misery 'Vol. 1' 12" LP Gatefold w/ Bonus 7"
Japan's Church Of Misery finally saw fit to give it's long unrealeased first album a proper release. Whilst many of the elements that make Church Of Misery such a great band hadn't quite matured yet (vocalist Kazuhiro Asaeda lacks the bite of his successors, and their trademark swagger hasn't quite reached the groovy peaks they'd scale on later albums), there's still much to enjoy here. It's worth noting that bassist Tatsu Mikami is the only band member from this record who's still in the band to this day, and his huge wah-pedal abusing basslines are just as heavy as you'd expect. There's a few early versions of songs that would be ressurected later on in the band's career, Cerebrate Pigs underwent a few minor changes and was eventually revamped into the the crushing Son Of A Gun for the band's split with Iron Monkey a few years later. We even get a thoroughly entertaining rendition of Gun's Race With The Devil, complete with that unmistakeable sludgy groove! The production, whilst not amazing by any means, does the job, you can hear everything clearly enough, even if you can't feel it crushing your rib cage and rattling your skull like with later albums...
In short, if you're new to the band, there are definitely much better places to start. The band's first "official" album, Master Of Brutality, is a total classic, and the Early Works Compilation is a fairly comprehensive collection of their early material, not to mention a fantastic introduction to the band. That said, if you're already a fan, then this is a great snapshot of the band in it's embryonic stage, and I can see no reason why you wouldn't want to add to this to the collection!